GRTA complies with Civil Rights Act, except for amenities in four parking lots, internal report shows

By David Pendered

GRTA complies with the federal Civil Rights Act in the operation of Xpress bus service, but four parking lots lack required amenities, according to results of a self-review the GRTA board discussed Wednesday.

GRTA leases parking spaces in the Brandsmart lot in Stockbridge and has determined the facilities needs ADA parking spaces and a passenger pavilion to comply with the federal Civil Rights Act. Credit: via yelp.

GRTA leases parking spaces in the Brandsmart lot in Stockbridge and has determined the facilities needs ADA parking spaces and a passenger pavilion to comply with the federal Civil Rights Act. Credit: via yelp.

The issue is a lack of amenities such as ADA parking in a leased lot, pavilions, security cameras, and call boxes, the review determined. The board voted to address the shortcomings.

Other than the parking lot issues, the review determined that GRTA complies with the provisions of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as administered by the Federal Transit Administration.

“We’re doing a pretty good job, if we have that small a number that doesn’t meet the standards,” said GRTA board Chairman Sonny Deriso, Jr. “I understand the focus is on those areas where we need to make improvements, and we will make them.”

GRTA’s self-review determined that all bus routes comply with a provision regarding equity in the age of buses.

The law requires that no bus that serves a minority route be more than three years older than the average bus in the system. A minority route is defined as one in which the minority ridership is 15 percent greater than the system average.

GRTA’s review determined the age of the average bus is 6.8 years. The age of buses on minority routes is 5.5 years to 8.6 years, the review showed.

The four parking lots that fall short and their missing amenities are:

  • GRTA operates Xpress bus service.

    GRTA’s Xpress bus service complies with Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act, an internal review showed. File/Credit: GRTA

    Stockbridge: Lacks a call box.

  • Stockbridge: The portion of the Brandsmart parking lot leased by GRTA for overflow parking lacks ADA-compliant parking spaces and passenger pavilions.
  • Hamilton Mill: Lacks message signs, security cameras, and call boxes.
  • Hiram: Lacks a fare pavilion, security cameras, and call boxes.

GRTA’s board on Wednesday authorized the GRTA staff to do what’s necessary to bring parking lots into compliance.

Kirk Fjelstul, GRTA’s acting executive director, said cost isn’t an issue. The review is so new that GRTA hasn’t discussed the issue with Brandsmart. GRTA board member B.J. Mathis said the lot could be relocated if the issue can’t be resolved, possibly to a nearby Garden Ridge home décor store.

The Title VI standards for parking lots vary according to who owns the parking lot, according to GRTA:

  • State-owned lots must provide: Passenger pavilions, fare pavilion, digital message signs, schedule displays, benches, ADA parking spaces, emergency call boxes, security cameras, waste receptacles.
  • Privately-owned lots must provide: Passenger shelters and ADA parking spaces.
  • Local government-owned lots have no requirements.

GRTA is required to comply with the Title VI program because it receives funding from the FTA. The FTA requires entities that receive FTA money to maintain compliance reports and to submit a board-approved copy every three years.

The purpose of the Title VI program is three-fold, according to the FTA:

  1. “Ensure that the level and quality of public transportation service is provided in a nondiscriminatory manner;
  2. “Promote full and fair participation in public transportation decision-making without regard to race, color, or national origin;
  3. “Ensure meaningful access to transit-related programs and activities by persons with limited English proficiency.”


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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